One of the biggest challenges that businesses face when they choose new, unfamiliar recyclable and compostable materials for their packaging is how to make sure consumers and businesses understand how to dispose of same.
One example is the bamboo internal packaging that Dell has been using for some of its netbooks. It took more than a year of work for the technology company to get this approach certified under the Federal Trade Commission's Green Guidelines. To its credit, it did that work.
Now, sustainability organization GreenBlue is hoping to bring more visibility to sustainable packaging initiative through what it is calling the Packaging Recovery Label System. This is a voluntary label (sample above) developed by the GreenBlue Sustainable Packaging Coalition that would help guide consumers about how to dispose of packages they receive. Five companies have already agreed to start using the label on appropriate packages starting in 2012: ConAgra Foods, Costco Wholesale, Microsoft, REI, and Seventh Generation. The labeling system is focusing on adhering to the FTC green frameworks.
Said GreenBlue Project Manager Anne Bedarf, who has led development of the labeling system for the SPC:
“Consumers are faced with a confusing landscape of recycling messages and instructions that are often inconsistent or misleading. We believe this label will create a harmonized system that will help consumers and companies contribute to more effective resource recovery.”
The difficulty associated with recycling programs is that they are extremely community-driven. What is handled as part of the recycling waste stream in one town or city might not be appropriate everywhere. I practically needed an owners manual when I traveled to Ireland last month, the house we stayed in had so many different rules. But the new system uses a database of information about programs across the United States to try and help assuage confusion.